17th August 2015

Not only will kids see a host of working robots at Robotronica, they will be able to interact with them, from high-flying mini drones to underwater envirobots and experiment with some new exciting robotic educational toys.

A highlight of Robotronica will be a visit from Ian Bernstein the co-founder of Sphero, the US company behind the two programmable robotic devices, Sphero and Ollie.

Children aged 8 and upwards will be able to get to know these intelligent robotic balls in the free Sphero Obstacle Course on the Kidney Lawn next to Old Government House.

Mr Bernstein will launch the latest version of the Sphero - SPRK Edition at Robotronica and will also be giving a free talk entitled "Tomorrow's Toys: shaping our future" at 1.30pm in the Kindler Theatre, in P Block (next to The Cube).

"This version has been specifically designed with education in mind and demonstrates the value of toys and games in education," Mr Bernstein said.

Robots and their value for children's learning will be a message hard to miss at Robotronica, says Robotronica creative director Jonathan Parsons.

"Robotronica will inspire children and adults alike with talks and demonstrations of the impact robotics will have on our future in every area from healthcare, and agriculture, to environmental sustainability, entertainment and education.

QUT roboticist Dr Chris Lehnert has researched how high school students can engage with robotic toys to learn the STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths) disciplines and learning how to build and program their own robot.

"Robots intrigue children and give them a huge incentive to get involved in playing with them and learning how they work," said Dr Lehnert, who runs QUT robotics workshops for students.

"Kids can learn fundamental maths and science as they interact with robotic toys almost without realising it.

"Robotics teaches them how to create using different technologies. We really promote these technologies in our STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths) education.

"One of the biggest benefits is learning the maths to do your own programming. We teach them to program their robot using different maths techniques to take what the robots' sensors tell them and convert it using maths into different information to use."

Queensland's only certified Darth Vader, the ultimate evil cyborg, and his 501st Legion will be patrolling the Robotronica crowd giving people the chance to take the ultimate selfie.

The international US-based 501st Legion is the world's largest Star Wars costuming group.

Other free events that let you get to know a robot include Robot Sumo Wars, the mini quadcopter obstacle course, and the Aquabot environmental challenges. Visit the Robotronica website for details.

Media contacts
Niki Widdowson, QUT Media, n.widdowson@qut.edu.au, 07 3138 2999
After hours Rose Trapnell, QUT Media team leader, 0407 585 901.

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